Juanda Prevails

John Juanda endured a record-smashing final table to capture the World Series of Poker-Europe Main Event title and the £868,800 first place prize.

The final nine players sat down and were dealt the first hand at 1:23 pm London time. The final hand between Juanda and runner-up Stanislav Alekhin went down at 10:32 am the next morning. A total of 19 hours and nine minutes made the WSOPE Main Event final table the longest in WSOP history, beating the record set in the $1,500 Razz event in 2005.

Things started quickly and the first player to go was Chris Elliott. On the seventh hand of play Elliott was eliminated after Alekhin made runner-runner flush to beat the two pair of Elliott. The 33-year-old Brit walked away with £81,450. The elimination would only be the start of an aggressive run by Alekhin and fellow Russian Ivan Demidov.

The next victim was Finland’s Toni Hiltunen. Alekhin put Hiltunen to the test pre-flop and Hiltunen made the call with pocket jacks only to watch as Alekhin flipped over pocket queens. When a third queen hit the turn it meant the end of the night for Hiltunen and Alekhin added to his stack. For his efforts Hiltunen walked away with £108,600.

Only two hands later all of London had something to cry about. The only local left, Robin Keston, tangled with Demidov and  was unable to see his Ac-8h improve against the Russian’s pocket nines. The 44-year-old earned £135,750 for his seventh place finish.

The early fast pace continued three hands later when Scott Fischman ran into one of the mad Russians. Demidov, Alekhin and Fischman all saw a flop of Jh-Ad-10d and after Demidov checked, Fischman bet 45,000. Continuing his aggressive play Alekhin raised to 135,000, Demidov folded and Fischman moved all-in. Alekhin called and tabled Kh-Qh for a flopped broadway straight while Fischman showed Ac-Qc. Fischman’s hand didn’t improve and he left £171,950 richer.

The first four eliminations happened just under 4.5 hours but it would be over six hours before the next player hit the rail. To the surprise of nobody it was Alekhin swinging the wrecking ball as crowd favorite and short stack Daniel Negreanu was eliminated in fifth. After waiting for a hand to move all-in with Negreanu finally looked down at Ac-9h and pushed his last chips into the middle. Alekhin called and tabled pocket jacks. With no ace on the flop, turn or river Negreanu’s day ended with a £217,200 cash.

Swedish cash-game player Bengt Sonnert would bust out in fourth, another play falling victim to Alekhin. Moving his short stack all-in with Ad-5h Sonnert found he was dominated by Alekhin’s Ah-8s. Sonnert’s night ended when another 8 hit the flop and he was left walking away with £271,500. Sonnert was the fifth player eliminated at the hands of Alekhin.

Shortly after play became three-handed the chip counts weren’t reflective of Alekhin’s dominance. Juanda had 2,335,000, Demidov was the short stack with 790,000 and Alekhin had 4,143,000. Over the next 77 hands the three players would see their chip counts bounce up and down like a yo-yo until Demidov’s night came to an end. With the board showing 8s-5d-3d-Jc Demidov moved all-in and was called by Juanda. Holding Qd-10-d against the pocket aces of Juanda Demidov, a member of the November Nine, needed any diamond or nine to stay alive. When neither came on the river the emerging Russian superstar was left with £334,850 to console himself with.

When heads-up play began Juanda held the chip lead with 4,420,000 to the 2,850,000 of Alekhin. Over the next 7.5 hours the lead would change hands numerous times with each player showing incredible discipline. Juanda had eliminated only one opponent from the final table while Alekhin had dismissed five players.

Shortly after 10 am London time Juanda finally had Alekhin on the ropes and held a nearly 10:1 chip lead. On the final hand of the tournament Alekhin moved all-in preflop and was called by Juanda. The Russian held Ac-9s while Juanda had Ks-6c. The poker gods must have had somewhere to be. Rather than extend the longest final table in WSOP history any further they delivered a flop of 6d-6s-2d giving Juanda trip sixes. The fourth six fell on the river adding insult to injury for Alekhin who walked away with £533,950 for his efforts.

Juanda captured the bracelet, his fourth, and the £868,800 first place prize money.